Astellas to Advance Cell, Gene Therapy with New $70M Bay Area Facility

Astellas_Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

Courtesy of Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

Astellas Pharma is opening a new integrated biotechnology campus in South Francisco to house key research, medical and development and commercial and administrative operations. 

The 154,000-square-foot building will be within the company's west coast innovation and research center at 480 Forbes Boulevard. Astellas is investing around $70 million into this project, which will also provide lab and co-working spaces to support current and future growth initiatives in the cell and gene therapy space for cancer and rare diseases. 

The new building will be operational by the summer of 2023. Some of the first occupants include the West Coast staff of Xyphos Biosciences, Astellas Gene Therapy and Rx+ Business Accelerator.

Xyphos develops medicines to cure solid tumors using a precision "standard pharmaceutical like cell therapy" platform; Astellas Gene Therapies focuses on finding treatments for rare diseases of the eye, central nervous system and neuromuscular system; and Rx+ BA is responsible for seeking potential collaborations with partners and investments in promising start-ups. 

The facility hopes to boost operational efficiency among units by placing office and lab operations under one roof, as opposed to the current setup of having independent locations. 

"Similar to the Astellas Biomedical Innovation Hub located in the greater Boston area, this new facility will foster even greater levels of collaboration amongst our world-class, multi-disciplinary teams working in cell and gene therapies, development of business opportunities and all those who support our endeavors to create value for patients," Yoshitsugu Shitaka, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Astellas, commented in a statement. 

"By uniting our business units in the Bay Area, we are creating a dedicated West Coast center in the vibrant South San Francisco corridor alongside other leaders in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry," Shitaka added. 

The Bay Area building reinforces Astellas' growth plans in the United States. In June, the company launched a 135,000-square-foot standalone manufacturing facility in Sanford, North Carolina. The building, which is designed to be good manufacturing practices (GMP) compliant, will support its pipeline of adeno-associated virus (AAV) products. It also houses an in-house quality control testing unit. 

The North Carolina facility is expected to create 200 jobs between now and 2026. 

"Right now, global biotech companies are being forced to shrink their portfolios or slow down programs because they can't find, or can't afford, the manufacturing capacity. Now, we can step up as a partner and provide the manufacturing power to get your products to patients faster. This is part of an overall strategy to be a partner of choice in the gene therapy space," Mathew Pletcher, Ph.D., senior vice president and division head of gene therapy research and technical operations at Astellas Gene Therapies, said in an interview with Biospace. 

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